An eco-minded country house in Somerset has been granted the rare NPPF 55 status for “exceptional and innovative houses in open countryside”.
Permission for Bath-based CaSA Architects’s timber-framed project just outside Frome has been granted under Paragraph 55 of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF 55, formerly PPS7; aka “the Country House Clause”), thanks to its rigorous approach to sustainability and a tiny environmental footprint. Only around six projects a year get through on this clause, which is widely regarded as the Holy Grail of rural planning.
Construction of The Lighthouse – a y-shaped home sited next to listed parkland and adjacent to an existing farmhouse – is due to start on-site this Autumn, with air-tight designs meeting the exacting German Passivhaus standard. Natural, unprocessed materials are to be used wherever possible, and the building has been orientated to optimise passive solar gain and minimise heat loss through the glazing; photovoltaic panels will be fitted to power the place, green roofs will reduce water run-off and summer thermal gain, while the timber-frame construction represents a sound sustainable choice.
The whole building has a pretty restrained yet highly contemporary look, with double-height timber and natural stone walls being absorbed into the surrounding landscape and reflecting neighbouring traditional two-storey structures.
“We welcome the house as a demonstration that good, strong, contemporary architecture can sit harmoniously in a rural setting close to heritage assets,” said the South West Design Review Panel in its guidance letter.
Ian Walker, Director of CaSA Architects: “Integration of the landscape and the architecture is critical to the success of this house. This is an extraordinary site, where open parkland sweeps up to the southern timber and glass side of the house, while woodland wraps around the stone sides that also address the nearby public road. The ‘Open Hand’ Y shaped plan, emerges from the tree belt between two large oak trees to reach out, touch and welcome in the wider parkland. Three wings define arrival, garden and parkland zones, which are treated differently in landscape and through elevational design. The open timber side to the house, which contains the family rooms, optimises both the view and solar gain.”
- Architect: CaSA Architects
- Landscape Design: SEED Landscape
- Planning Consultant: PlanningSphere
- Building Energy Consultants: Greengauge
- Landscape and Visual Impact: Assessment Sightline Landscape
- Arboricultural Impact Assessment: Jack Pine Trees
- Heritage Assessment: Bristol and Region AS
- Protected Species Surveys: Country Contracts
- Historic Summary: M. McGarvie